So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- TouchFLO interface, Stylish and compact design, 1GB microSD card included, Redesigned home page, Windows Mobile 6 OS
- No 3G/HSDPA, Slow processor, Proprietary USB connection, Battery life
While it uses a technology still in its infancy, the HTC Touch is the beginning of the future of mobile phone interfaces. A lack of 3G connectivity and a slow processor are sour points, but the stylish design and touch screen are attractions.
Price$ 699.00 (AUD)
The HTC Touch is a compact and stylish smart phone that uses touch screen navigation to provide quick access to key features. Running the new Windows Mobile 6 operating system, the Touch responds to movement, and recognises the sweep of your finger to launch a unique 3D interface. Unfortunately, the lack of 3G or HSDPA connectivity and a slow processor hinder what is a glance into the future of mobile phone interfaces.
Obviously drawing comparison to the iPhone, TouchFLO is the technology developed by HTC that responds to movement on the screen. Swiping your finger up the display from the home screen launches the Touch's animated interface, consisting of a virtual cube with three screens; contacts, media and applications. The contacts screen gives you quick access to nine contacts, and you can assign an image or photo to each of these. Below the nine contact boxes are a row of icons; phone dialler, call lists, phone book, and an option to edit the quick contacts. A quick swipe of your finger left or right reveals a multimedia screen, with quick access to music, photos and videos, and an applications screen consisting of email, SMS/MMS, Internet Explorer, tasks, communications manager and calendar. Another swipe down takes you back to the home screen.
While TouchFLO is intuitive and pretty useful, unlike the iPhone, it's purely for quicker access to tasks. Once you open most applications (like SMS messaging for example), you'll still need to use the traditional method of a stylus. We do like the fact that lists can be scrolled through with a quick stroke of your finger, and the fact that it's easy to access commonly used applications, but being a new feature, there is definitely plenty of room for improvement.
Perhaps the best feature of the Touch besides the TouchFLO interface is the home screen. HTC has customised it specifically for this device, and the large digital clock, combined with one touch access to a weather forecast, email, SMS/MMS messages and call lists is very convenient. It manages to keep upcoming calendar appointment information, and you can even close running applications from the home screen as well.
Unfortunately, the Touch isn't 3G or HSDPA capable. It's a tri-band (900/1800/1900 MHz) handset and although voice calls aren't as clear as a regular mobile phone, it performs at a decent level. Volume in particular is quite loud, so much so that when at full volume any people in your proximity can hear your conversation. The hands free-speakerphone also works well, but the position of the speaker at the rear of the device doesn't do it any favours, especially when the phone is sitting on a flat surface.
As a multimedia device, the Touch is a solid unit. We really like the multimedia menu, especially the well designed music player. It has been modified specifically for this unit and features large, easy to tap buttons, while the library is easy to scroll through thanks to both large text, and the TouchFLO system. However, the photo and video menus haven't been redesigned to suit the touch panel and the handset is also hindered by the lack of a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The absence of A2DP Bluetooth is another downside, although the included headphones are better quality than expected. The Touch supports AAC, ACC+, eAAC+, MP3, WMA, WAV, and MPEG4 files and HTC is generous, offering a 1GB microSD card in the sales package.
The Touch includes a 2 megapixel camera with a self portrait mirror, but the lack of flash means night time photography is near impossible. Obviously any sort of real photography is out of the question, but the camera works fine for taking pictures to attach to the phonebook. It includes a two or 10 second self-timer, white balance adjustment and several effects.
The Touch is one of the first smart phones we've reviewed that runs the Windows Mobile 6 operating system. Unfortunately, the 201MHz TI OMAP processor doesn't do this handset justice. It's quite sluggish, especially when switching between multiple applications, and opening some applications takes a few seconds longer than expected. Although the Touch isn't 3G or HSDPA capable, it's fairly well equipped in the connectivity department with Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0 and USB.
The Touch is one of the most stylish and compact smart phones we've reviewed. It measures just 99.9mm x 58mm x 13.9mm and weighs only 112g. The most striking aspect of the design is the flat nature of the display; it sits at the same level as the phones casing. Combined with chrome edging, a matt black finish that is kind to fingerprints, and only a few buttons, the Touch is a delightful piece of craftsmanship. The 2.8in screen is large, bright and clear, and is capable of 65k colours and a resolution of 240x320.
With no keyboard, the Touch has just a few controls; a comfortable five-way navigational pad, answer and end call keys, a power button, dedicated camera button and a volume slider. The stylus is neatly hidden into the top right hand corner of the unit and is easy to remove. Unfortunately, a proprietary USB port is a downside, as is battery life. Rated at up to five hours talk time and 200 hours standby time, we expected these figures to be a little better, especially since the unit isn't 3G.
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